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tmuffie 04-29-2011 07:12 AM

Wanting opinions on first purchase.
This is going to be my first Airstream. For some odd reason I am attracted to the look of an Airstream. Being I am somewhat handy I feel that I could tackle a project but not one where the family has to wait to camp. I do have a family of four and was not sure if the layouts of the older models would fit my family. The price range I need to be in is around $7000.00 but in order for this to work my wife wants to camp right away and work on it as we go.

Hope this is not confusing.

SO Here is a Airstream that is 1 hour from my home and after reading threads all week and getting the checklist, I wanted your opinion on this unit. The dealer said he is slightly negotiable so I was going to check it out this weekend.

1973 Airstream 1973 27' Airstream International

Any response is appreciated.

eubank 04-29-2011 07:32 AM

Greetings, tmuffie, and welcome to the forums. From the pictures, it looks like you've found yourself a pretty nice-looking rig! I'm sure owners of similarly vintaged rigs will be able to jump in to give advice on what to look for! Otherwise, it's time to get your tow vehicle set up to tow it -- and then to go out and have a ball of a time!


Melody Ranch 04-29-2011 07:46 AM

Welcome to the Forum.
Your on the right track with some research. A family of four will need something in the longer size like the one pictured. Be sure you have a tow vehicle that will handle it. Dont let the small replacement items eat you up (your budget.) I foresee a new battery, those car (auto) tires have to go, propane tanks look out dated, axle condition is always a consideration, and of course things like the water pump, converter, etc., etc. Things wear out in 30 plan on some upgrades and really helps that your handy and don't mind getting involved with it. If its at a dealership for them for those upgrades before you buy.

tmuffie 04-29-2011 08:12 AM

Have a 1999 chevy suburban. 5.7L. w/ towing package. Not sure but think she could handle the load.

DKB_SATX 04-29-2011 08:46 AM

You're looking at the same sort of trailer I was looking for... if everything's working pretty well, it seems like a good price range. Cosmetically this one seems very good, if it's all functional then a little maintenance and an upgrade or two and you're ready to camp.

I looked at an Overlander that was a year older with a big dent and a bit less-nice interior (and it was the "double" floor plan rather than twins, I think the twins are better for sleeping, but that's probably because we're accustomed to a king, the double would be a little tight.) The one I looked at had a significantly higher asking price and wasn't coming from a dealer, it needed lots of things. If I'd found the trailer you're looking at before I found my Argosy, I'd probably have bought it.

The tow vehicle sounds like it should be plenty capable, just get a good hitch and brake controller.

Mikethefixit 04-29-2011 08:48 AM

Ok U ask. IT looks pretty fair for a 73. The asking price is a little high,given it needs the axles changed.Look where the bottom of the wheelwells are,at the top of the rims on the tires. Take off 15oo bucks off the top. Add whether it needs tires. Check to make darn sure the fridge and AC work and the pump. Check the batteries Theres over another $100 bucks.
Depending on how bad ya want it , it could conseivably be good enought to camp rite away with a little TLC.
JUST MY OPINION based on the pic alone.
The most vital thing is to be able to reach out and touch it. DONT buy on pics or the owners word. I found out the hard way,ours had been frozen.

overlander64 04-29-2011 08:53 AM

Wanting opinions on first purchase.
Greetings tmuffie!

Welcome to the Forums!


Originally Posted by tmuffie (Post 985367)
Have a 1999 chevy suburban. 5.7L. w/ towing package. Not sure but think she could handle the load.

I tow a very similar Overlander (1964 model) with my '99 K2500 Suburban with 7400 VORTEC. The 5700 VORTEC's performance will be marginal with the coach when you get into mountain grades. My Suburban replaced a 5.7 Liter Chevrolet model and the only reason for the trade was the abysmal performance in mountainous and hilly terrain.

Should your Suburban be a C/K2500 with the 4.10 differential rather than the C/K1500 with the 3.73 differential, you may be in slightly better condition. I believe that the C/K1500 had a maximum trailer tow capacity of 6,500 pounds with factory package and 3.73 gears while the C/K2500 with 5700 VORTEC and 4.10 gears had a trailer tow capacity of about 7,500 pounds.

Your Suburban won't have much trouble handling the physical size of the Overlander, but you are quite likely to feel very underpowered in the hills and mountains.

Good luck with your investigation!


SoCalStreamr 04-29-2011 08:55 AM

That trailer looks sweet. I wish I could have a mostly functional project to play with too.

My 99 Dodge Durango 4spd/5.2L needed a rebuilt tranny, new leafsprings, airbag helpers and shock upgrade all around before it was a level, solid, reliable tow vehicle. Thats a couple of grand and a few weekends of labor plus a truck down for a 10 days (tranny rebuild). Don't forget to factor in an "older" TV's wear and tear.

Our family bought the Durango newand we did ALL the maintenance. Still needed to do more to make it a tractor. AS are not light for their size. As was stated 4.10 gears would make a big difference. Often there is a indicator tag on one of the bolts on the bell housing if you cant research it by vin.

bassfiddler 04-29-2011 09:10 AM

It may be "ready to camp" as is but after a few trips you'll likely find many things you'll want to fix sooner than later. I took ownership of my '71 and after a new set of tires, wheel bearings packed and brakes we used it several times. During these first few trips I discovered there were things that I needed to fix immediately. Floor and frame damage, depending on the extent, are things that may keep you off the road for an extended period of time depending on the extend of the damage. The amount of time it's out of commission for repairs will also depend on how much spare time you have to do the work and what skills you possess (welding, basic wood-working etc.). You can prioritize the repairs based on budget, (safety issues taking precedent), and gradually get the old gal just like you want it. The more work I do on ours the more I fall in love with her. I'd say the $7000.00 budget will get you a good start but likely you will far exceed that before you're finished.'s still cheaper than most new SOB's...

Splitrock 04-29-2011 10:04 AM

All the old Airstreams I looked at through the years smelled like the inside of a swamp boot. I'd budget about 3.5 grand above purchase price to replace fixtures and appliances. Unless appliances and fixtures have all been replaced, and it doesn't look like they have, they are all at the end of their lives. I'd budget another two, maybe three grand to take care of deferred maintenance like window and door gaskets, water pump, plumbing, tank valve replacement, tires, brakes, batteries, converter, possible LP tank updating, and gas line repair/replacement.

The trailer doesn't have any awnings. I'd want three awnings and I'd budget about 3 grand + for those. The drapes look original as does the sofa and foam mattresses. My wife won't sleep on somebody else's 40 year old used mattress. The drapes will probably fall apart if they're washed. I'd budget a couple grand + for new drapes, mattresses, and new upholstery on the sofa.

The axles may be hatched out. Add a couple more grand. All my prices estimates are for DIY installation. I've spent another $800 on a hitch and rock guard for my Yukon XL. I bought my trailer to travel in but I've spent all my time (and money) fixing it up.


DKB_SATX 04-29-2011 10:48 AM

This checklist in the thread below is a very valuable resource. It helps you find problems you might not think about, and helps you organize your inspection of an Airstream. I used it to good effect both to eliminate trailers that weren't good deals and to assure myself and my partner that the one we bought was a the right trailer.

tmuffie 04-29-2011 05:19 PM

I went and checked out the trailer today. Here is what I was told. Nothing more than what a salesman would tell you. Everything is working and if he did not know he said they had to check it out. I have been researching for two weeks and knew more about this model than he did, but I understand when all you want to sell is new. He did tell me that they replaced the toilet, hot water tank and pump. He said that the axles looked good when they had it in the shop but it is a 1973. As I was crawling all over trailer I could not find any floor damage, the bathroom looked like brand new lamiante wood flooring. The door open and closed and even locked, the seals were a little dry rotted but no leaks where apparent. The jacks where a little crusty but still attached and working. SKin looked to have a few dings and scratches but not to bad of shape, All windows where in working order just a little tight. Rear bumper looked good and the dump valves seemed upgraded. Inside was nice even the old shag was clean, was need a clean up and stove looked great. Fridge was jammed shut on the lower left corner, this may be a floor issue or just a warped door frame. I was expecting an old smell but it was not bad.
For my first look I was impressed that it was a 73 and now I understand why you all fall in love with the design and quality.
Next time I will check the water, electrical, and anything else you all feel I forgot.
Thanks for all your wisdom.

Mikethefixit 04-29-2011 06:01 PM

I rally feel the saleman is just that A SALEMAN and he DONT HAVE A CLUE.
THOSE AXLES ARE SHOT. Now next time down. Take your work duds or coveralls and crawl under that puppy yourself. DONT TAKE ANYONES WORD.
There is an axle thread here to tell and show you what to look for. Other that that it dont look to bad.

eubank 04-29-2011 06:35 PM

You know, the Penn area has lots of owers. How about asking about to see if you can get a knowledgeable vintage owner to go look at it with you. You'll know the person is experienced if she/he brings an ice pick along.

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